Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT
His left hand is under my head, and His right hand embraces me.
Song of Songs 2:6, NKJV
Tonight, I want to tell you my story. Let’s pretend (for my sake) that we are sitting down over a cup of coffee becoming friends. I am smiling from ear to ear, right now, getting to share the evening talking with you. Moments like these are my favorites.
My senior year of high school I began expressing symptoms of what I now know to be an auto-immune disease. Even now as I write, I am rushed back to the confusion of it all. I don’t remember my senior year. Most of my “memories” are reconstructed from what I recorded in my journals. But I do remember the hazy fog of confusion that seemed to set over me during that year. Prior to that year I was loving high school, and doing well, almost always making A’s. I was involved in clubs, I was invested with friends. I was a typical high school student. Then, in that year of 2003, everything went downhill. My grades dropped, as classes became more than just difficult. They became impossible. I would study for hours only to walk into class the next day completely unable to recall a single word from the night before. I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t even keep up with conversations. In fact, in order to graduate, I had to drop 3 of my classes. My memory didn’t stop in class. I would find myself in the halls unable to remember where I had come from or what classes I had to go to. I was exhausted all the time, sleeping some days for 16 hours. And there was pain. Lots of pain. I spent so many afternoons in the doctor’s office with my mom, as we went over all the different possibilities that could be causing this war.
After graduation, I foolishly tried going to college. I spent 2 years at a college in South Carolina, and finally, I dropped out and came home. By then I had lost 50 pounds. I had symptoms affecting every part of my body. I was weak and broken. I came home, found a job and began working. Somehow, I managed to keep an apartment, pay off 2 years of college loans, medical bills, and still manage other living expenses.
It was hard. Sometimes it has been more than hard. It is still hard. There have been many tears, many nights crying out in pain, both emotionally and physically. And there has been a lot of confusion as to why God hasn’t healed me. I have had many sleepless nights, unable to leave my bed because my muscles were so tired they literally would just stop working. Those nights began many conversations with God. I wouldn’t give up those moments in the shadows for anything. Those were the first moments I ever experienced the manifest presence of God. I would lie in bed, I would cry, and God would be there, comforting me. He would speak to me, reminding me that His left hand is under my head, and His right hand embraces me. He was always holding me, even in the dark nights. Even when I was surrounded by pain. He was holding me then. He is holding me now.
I tell you this, not for your pity. But because the background is essential to understand the whole picture. I have lived this story for 10 years. It is one of the first things I tell people when I meet them. Not because I want sympathies or help, but because it’s a story that is worth telling.
I guess my transparency surprises people. I am asked often why I am so open about this disease. I’ve had many people tell me that I shouldn’t embrace my situation as much as I do. (Trust me, I’m not embracing it. My many friends whom I run to in tears can attest to that.) But there is a difference between embracing a situation and sharing a story. And here is the purpose of our coffee date tonight. I want you to know that my story of limitations has not handicapped my life, it has expanded it. I am chapters full of God moments. Not because of anything I have ever been or will ever be. I am just a girl. And that wouldn’t be much, except I am just a girl, loved by an almighty God. So here is the part of the story I hope you keep with you. I am open about my story, and I share it with pride, because it is made up entirely of gospel. My story is a living example of how God takes evil and turns it to good. I am a living exclamation of how God takes weakness and infuses His strength into it.
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
What a beautiful life.